An article on the Exposé website, which has published misinformation about Covid-19 many times before, falsely claims that recent cases of monkeypox are in fact other diseases caused by the Covid-19 vaccines.
This is not true, and the Exposé’s explanation is flawed. Thousands of monkeypox cases in the UK have been confirmed using PCR tests that showed the presence of a monkeypox infection.
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What the article claims
The article’s headline says: “Official Government Documents indicate Authorities are using Monkeypox to cover up the fact the COVID-19 Vaccines cause Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome”. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is better known as AIDS.
It goes on to say that “evidence suggests we’re not witnessing an outbreak of monkeypox across first-world countries at all. Instead, we’re witnessing the consequences of the damage that has been caused to immune systems by the Covid-19 injections in the very same first-world countries, and authorities are rushing to cover it up.”
The Exposé claims that people are therefore becoming ill with other conditions that cause skin blistering, such as those caused by different forms of herpes, which would not have otherwise affected them as badly.
There is evidence that some people may have experienced a reactivation of herpes zoster following vaccination, with a possibly increased risk among those with an already weakened immune system, although the evidence on this is not clear. But it is not true that these cases are being mistaken for monkeypox, or that the vaccine itself is causing widespread harm to people's immune function.
Why it’s wrong
Most importantly, we already know for certain that most of the monkeypox cases in the current outbreak were caused by an infection with the monkeypox virus—not another disease.
Of the 2,859 cases recorded in the UK up to 4 August, 2,768 have been confirmed with PCR tests, with the rest rated “highly probable” monkeypox infections.
It is also not true that the Covid-19 vaccines are causing widespread damage to people’s immune systems. The false claim that the vaccine causes an AIDS-like condition often comes from a misinterpretation of official Covid statistics that we have written about before, and which the Exposé has spread repeatedly in the past.
The article includes another common falsehood about the Covid vaccines, when it claims that data on reported adverse events shows harm that the vaccines “caused”.
This is not correct.
The Exposé uses data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) in the US, with which it claims, for example, that “the Covid-19 injections have caused the most herpes related infections”.
But this data does not tell us whether the vaccine itself caused any of these infections, or any other events. It tells us how many of these cases have been reported following vaccination.
As a disclaimer on the VAERS database itself explains: “While very important in monitoring vaccine safety, VAERS reports alone cannot be used to determine if a vaccine caused or contributed to an adverse event or illness.”
The Exposé does not mention this.
As we have written before, there is some evidence that vaccination may trigger reactivation of an existing herpes zoster (shingles) infection, with a possibly increased risk for those who are already immunocompromised.
However, the evidence isn’t particularly clear. A spokesperson for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) told Full Fact in May: “The MHRA has sought independent expert advice from the Commission on Human Medicines’ COVID-19 Vaccine Benefit-Risk Expert Working Group following a review of the currently available data describing herpes zoster (shingles) occurring after COVID-19 vaccination in adults and children in the UK.
“The Expert Working Group advised that reporting rates for herpes zoster following COVID-19 vaccination were not greater than with herpes zoster occurring naturally in the general population and that overall, the evidence did not indicate a causal relationship between COVID-19 vaccination and herpes zoster in adults or children.”
The MHRA has also confirmed to Full Fact that there is no evidence to date of a causal relationship between monkeypox and the Covid-19 vaccines.
Image courtesy of Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regnery, CDC